Photo Friday – Capturing the Moment

Sometimes, you just get lucky.

I love taking photos of gardens. I love the way sunlight and rain can affect the landscape, how the breeze makes flowers dance, and how, in a second, I can capture and hold onto life in all its glory.

This summer, I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time.

In June, I visited the magnificent Portland Rose Garden with my dear friend and talented photographer and designer Ariane Colenbrander. A light but continuous drizzle was falling (it was Portland, after all), and the roses were all drenched. I used my Nikon D5100 with an 85mm macro lens to capture an unforgettable array of blooms and colours. Take a look at the slide show below and enjoy.


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Photo Friday – My Theme Shot

Since photography has become so important to me, I thought I’d use Fridays to feature a particular shot and give it a bit of context. I couldn’t think of a better place to begin than with the photo I chose for the first theme shot.

This was taken at Vancouver’s Sun-Yat-Sen Gardens on a beautiful and sunny late afternoon in May – one of a few hundred I took that day in this idyllic venue. As a visually impaired photographer, I shoot with a concept in mind, but I don’t know exactly what the final outcome will be. I was thrilled with this photo on so many levels.

More than anything else, it conveys better than anything else how I see – items close up are fairly ‘clear’ (at least to me!) and grow blurrier and less distinct as they get farther away. At all times, though, I’m very conscious of colour and light. The fact that the opening in the rock looks rather eye-like wasn’t lost on me either. And heck, I just love the entire effect.

So, enjoy. I hope it gives you a sense of what I’m capable of – indeed, what we are all capable of, whatever our real and perceived limitations.

Happy Friday, and for all you Canadians out there, Happy Thanksgiving weekend.

Time to Spare? Time to Share…

Last year, I was fortunate to discover and lend my support to a charity that was so unique, so creative, that I had to get involved again. Let me tell you about the 3rd Annual Timeraiser Vancouver event that’s happening this coming Thursday, September 23rd at the Roundhouse Community Centre in the heart of Yaletown.

Timeraiser was started in 2002 by a group of friends who wanted to find meaningful, relevant volunteer opportunities in their home community.  It’s blossomed into an annual event that operates across Canada.

It’s a charity with a twist, using a silent art auction as an incentive for what they call “speed dating for volunteerism”. For a $20 ticket, people can view works of local artists, then bid on their favorites. But the currency during Timeraiser isn’t cash, but volunteer hours which are so desperately needed by cultural, social and health agencies.

Participants meet with representatives from more than 25 diverse agencies – including Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Canadian Autism Network, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, the Canadian Mental Health Association, Immigrant Services Society of BC, the Canadian Youth Business Foundation – and match their skills to the needs of the organizations.  Once they decide where they want to get involved, they bid anywhere from 20-125 volunteer hours on their favorite piece of art.  Winning bidders then have 12 months to complete their pledge before they receive the artwork as a reward for their dedication.

So far, Timeraisers have prompted 3,600 Canadians to volunteer, generated more than 45,000 volunteer hours for some 250 different charities, and invested $300,000 in the careers of cutting-edge artists.

Interested? I’d love to see you there. In fact, let me help make that happen.

I have two Timeraiser tickets to give away. Simply comment to this post and tell me why you want to attend, and what volunteerism means to you, and I’ll pick a lucky winner at random tomorrow at 5pm.

It will be my pleasure to meet you there and introduce you to the wonderful, committed people who’ve made this happen for the past three years.

MentalHealthCamp 09 – Life-Changing!

It’s not quite a week since I attended Vancouver’s (and probably the world’s) first-ever MentalHealthCamp.  It was a breakthrough event, for so many reasons.

First, it’s paved the way for other cities around the world to gather together and examine, openly and frankly, how social media can help strip away the stigma that surrounds mental health issues.  Already, communities from Dallas to Ottawa, from San Francisco to Sydney, are looking to organize similar unconferences using Vancouver as the model.

Kudos to all the many volunteers and to the organizers, Dr. Raul Pacheco-Vega and Isabella Mori, for their hard work and dedication.  I’m so proud of the fact that we were trailblazers.

But it was  also a breakthrough for me as well. I was there as a volunteer, the “media concierge’, as Raul kindly put it.  I could have spent the entire day merely observing.

But I didn’t.

I found myself deeply immersed in everyone’s stories – of alienation, of pain, of sadness – and of survival and fighting back for respect and dignity.  I found myself almost crying one minute, and laughing and cheering accomplishments the next.  I became part of that wonderful community of people, and am so happy I went.

Like most of us, I’ve had some dark days in my life – perhaps not as profound as some – but they’ve happened and they could happen again.  I also have dear friends and family members who sometimes struggle.  But I feel stronger, better and happier for the fact that there is no shame in telling people how you feel, and looking to others for help and support.

And blogging about it:-)

If there is one thing I learned at MentalHealthCamp, it’s that this thing we call social media can be a powerful tool when thoughtfully used to teach, to help, and to heal.  I’m ready to help whenever I can to spread the word.

To all of those who raised their voices, especially those who may have done so for the first time – thank you all.  You rock!

“Crime Pays” in Vancouver (for one night)

I have a lot of affection for my newest home, and one of the things I am committed to doing is spreading the word on special events that make Vancouver so very special.  So without embellishing the awesome job that my friend @raincoaster has done, I’ll re-post the details of Monday’s Crime Pays party in the hopes that more folks will come – or keep the unique Police Museum in mind for an upcoming visit.


Please join the Shebeen Club and the Federation of BC Writers at the Vancouver Police Museum for Crime Pays – the party of the year.


Who: The Shebeen Club and the Federation of BC Writers

What: a wicked good fundraiser for the Fed

When: Monday, March 16th, 6-9pm

Where: The Vancouver Police Museum, 240 East Cordova Street, Vancouver

Why: it would be criminal to miss this party!

Crime Pays film noir femme fatale

Wanted: YOU!

Come help the Fed celebrate 32 years of getting away with murder. Whether infiltrating schools, divvying up swag, or distributing subversive publications, the Federation of BC Writers has been operating unchecked in our province for decades.

Do you enjoy the vicarious thrill of rubbing shoulder pads with the Lost Literati of the Wild West surrounded by all manner of murder and mayhem in the cozy confines of the Police Museum? Do you have what it takes to make your bones as a Fed member? There’s only one way to find out! Come out to the party and make us an offer we can’t refuse.

Admission: $20 donation includes a drink and appetizers. Click here to register. If you won’t be attending, but would like to support the Fed with a donation, click here to donate via the raincoaster media Paypal.

Bring cash for the Poetry Brothel, and bring your chequebook to bid on some of the most attractive Guys and
Dolls around in our date auction!

Dress code: Trenchcoat and fedora, deerstalker and cape, jailhouse stripes, uniforms, Bond or femme fatale slinkwear all optional but encouraged. Attitude absolutely mandatory.

Raffle prize donations, bribes, and sponsorship applications very welcome: please email lorraine.murphy at
Gmail dot com. Anything related to crime or the theme of noir is particularly welcome, eg detective books, Martini glasses, etc, or anything black or white.

The Crime Pays fundraiser will be our Shebeen Club meeting for the month of March, so I hope to see everyone
there, dressed fabulously and behaving infamously!